Hernandez Loses His Shit

Outgoing OUSA President Francisco Hernandez has expressed outrage at the Government’s decision to reduce the maximum size of university and wananga governing councils from 20 members to 12. Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce announced the decision in his Review of the Legislative Settings for University Governance last week.

Joyce reasoned that the lower membership numbers would strengthen such institutions’ governance capabilities and enable them to remain internationally competitive. Hernandez, however, thought differently.

“The government is attacking student representation on university councils,” he said.

“This report has the whiff of an all-nighter pulled to crank out a forgotten piece of assessment. This isn’t even a C- job. It is an anemic, anonymous, 11-page document that compares poorly with the comprehensive Review of Tertiary Education Governance conducted … for Governance of the University of Canberra in 2003,” Hernandez continued.

“The New Zealand tertiary education system, under current governance arrangements, has produced more qualifications and graduates than ever before. Or so announced the Minister yesterday. It is difficult to reconcile the ‘we’re doing a great job’ story line with the ‘the governance of universities needs to change’ story line.”

Tertiary Education Union national secretary, Sharn Riggs, felt similarly, but said the announcement was no surprise. “The minister has been keen on turning universities into businesses with no links to their communities for some time now. His view is that increased productivity and profitability in the ITP sector, where similar changes were made two years ago, has nothing to do with the efforts of staff and other stakeholders but is the result of stripping out the representative structures on the councils.”

“The Minister’s speech to tertiary education leaders this morning mentioned the word ‘society’ just once,” Riggs said. “Tertiary education has many benefits, not just the economic ones.”

The Ministry of Education is coordinating consultation over the proposed changes. Public submissions close on 12 November.
This article first appeared in Issue 26, 2013.
Posted 4:26pm Sunday 6th October 2013 by Zane Pocock.